Gossip Writers: Social Media Made Celebrity Image Management Easier Than Ever

i.2.scandal-manual-gossip(George) Rush and (Joanna) Malloy were two of America’s best known old-school gossip columnists, but they decided to call it quits three years ago? Why?

In a complaint that will sound familiar to every journalist everywhere, they say they’d had it with celebs’ newfound ability to manage their images more effectively with social media, thereby reducing the value of the honest-to-goodness journalists who write regular columns in print (even if those columns are all about drug addictions and affairs and other gutter-hugging topics).

Oh, and they wanted to write a book that they then promoted with this Vanity Fair interview.

Some quotes:

“Keeping up with the Kardashians and other reality stars became nauseating. More and more, celebs were able to use social media to sidestep the columns, and most of the traditional media. They could spin their own version of the truth.”

“If I wanted to go into marketing, I would have gone to business school.”

In other words, celebrity news and marketing are now one and the same—right, Kim?

Who has time to fact check when there’s another juicy piece of gossip right around the corner? On a level playing field where everyone’s a “journalist”, credibility is relative.

Here’s another good one:

“Gossip writers are like sportswriters—you really can’t be friends with the players. You have to reserve the right to run the story if you find out your subject filched a bracelet.”

Interesting. Everyone still fears showing up in TMZ, but do we agree that traditional gossip columnists no longer pose such a big threat to celebrity reputation management?

Oh, right we almost forgot: here’s their book. And here’s an incredible excerpt, published by Gawker‘s Hamilton Nolan one month ago:

I got a call one day from a source who said she was at a party in L.A. where Kirstie Alley had shown up with her pet baby possum. My source said, “The possum starts to go squeak, squeak, squeak. Like it was hungry. And Kirstie said, ‘Oooh, ooh, baby, baby, mommy’s here.’ And she turned to a publicist and said, ‘Say, aren’t you nursing a baby right now?’ She wanted the publicist to give the possum some of her milk! They were talking about having the publicist breast-feed the possum. But because the possum already had teeth, the publicist was apparently afraid of doing that. So she expressed her breast milk into a bottle. Kirstie Alley then fed it to the baby possum.”

It’s a living!